Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Proposed New Nutrition Labels Would Highlight Sugar, Standardize Serving Sizes

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Proposed New Nutrition Labels Would Highlight Sugar, Standardize Serving Sizes

Article excerpt

Proposed nutrition labels would highlight sugar


TORONTO - Health Canada is proposing redesigned nutrition labels that would highlight when food products contain a lot of sugar.

The new labelling rules would also standardize serving sizes to make it easier for consumers to compare nutrient contents of similar products.

The proposed changes come in response to criticism from consumers, dietitians and health professionals that current labels are difficult to decipher and inconsistent. But an Ottawa obesity expert said the redrawn nutrition facts template doesn't go far enough when it comes to added sugars.

"If our old nutrition fact panel labels were graded I'd probably grade them about a D+ and I'd give these ones about a C+," said Yoni Freedhoff, medical director of the Bariatric Medical Institute.

"They're certainly far from good and they're extremely far from great.... Diet-related illnesses and chronic non-communicable diseases are rising dramatically in this country and this is a country where we pay for their impact, all of us, with our taxes.

"These are not bold changes. Given the nature and degree of the problem that we are seeing from diet- and weight-related illnesses we kind of need bold."

The new labels would cite the per cent daily value (% DV) of sugar per portion, with a guideline stating that under five per cent is "a little" and 15 per cent or more is "a lot."

The World Health Organization recommends limiting daily intake of added sugars to less than 10 per cent of total energy intake. A further reduction to below five per cent or roughly 25 grams (six teaspoons) per day would provide additional health benefits, the WHO says.

The new standard would also group all sugars together in the ingredient list, ordering them by weight from most to least.

In a typical granola bar, agave nectar, brown sugar and brown rice syrup -- all different types of sugar -- might be dispersed throughout the ingredient list.

"But in this framework, this new proposal where we group them together . …

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